With acrimony -- and teachers watching -- Senate advances 1 percent raise

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With acrimony -- and teachers watching -- Senate advances 1 percent raise
Phil Kabler, Charleton Gazette-Mail

With more of a sense of acrimony than accomplishment, the West Virginia Senate passed 33-0, and sent to the House, Senate Bill 267, which gives teachers five consecutive 1 percent pay raises, while providing back-to-back 1 percent raises for other state employees and school service personnel.

Senate Democrats called the raises inadequate, and even insulting, while Republicans likened them to a “fiscally responsible” down payment for state workers, with the promise of larger increases down the road as the economy improves.

The nearly hour-long debate was intensified by the presence of schoolteachers, most dressed in red, who filled the Senate chamber’s three galleries but remained largely silent during the proceedings.

At several points during the debate, Senate Republicans accused Democrats of grandstanding by advocating for higher pay raises, contending that they missed multiple opportunities to maintain teacher pay, which has dropped to 48th in the United States, while they were the majority party in the years following the 1990 teachers’ strike.

“We all know that’s not enough,” Sen. Sue Cline, R-Wyoming, said of the 1 percent raises. “I’m personally so tired of hearing about how hardhearted I am, how mean I am.”

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